At the start of this season Lotto-Belisol unveiled their brand new, yet retro inspired kit design. The simple red jersey with a large white band across the center harked back to yesteryear before clothing manufactures were able to laminate multiple colors on to a jersey.
This simple but bold design has been adopted by bike sponsor Ridley for the Tour de France team with all bikes used (except a few that were used on stage five) have been simplified from the usual sharp angular graphics that the team usually use. Instead the frames are now matte red with a white band displaying a simplified Ridley logo on the down tube. The traditional Ridley “R” logo still sits prominent on the head tube.
Two types of Ridley frames are being used throughout the three weeks of the Tour. Even for stage five they stuck with standard frame, avoiding using anything that is solely designed for cobbles. The two models are the Helium SL, a light weight climbing frame designed for the high mountains but just as apt at crossing the cobbles. And the Noah Fast, with its integrated brakes and aero tubing is the bike that is reserved for the flat fast days where the team need as much aerodynamic help as possible.
Components are exactly the same as used throughout the rest of the season, no new or prototype equipment has been used on the bikes. They’ve stuck with tried and tested equipment (except for the PC8 SRM head unit which you can see in the photos and descriptions below). Andre Greipel is the only rider in the peloton to be using SRM’s new head unit at the time of writing.
Campagnolo have been with the team for many years now; all of Lotto-Belisol’s bikes are equipped with Super Record EPS. For a Belgium team with mechanics who have worked on 25 Tours they know what works and what doesn’t. They even used the EPS groupset on the Helium bikes that were for stage 5 across the cobbles.
Gear ratios differ depending on the rider and the stage; the first three stages saw the team run cassettes with a 12-27 ratio, with a 39/53 up front. The flatter stages will see the team use different ratios, whether we will see a compact creep in to the bike set ups is yet to be seen.
Contact points are supplied by Deda, for the bars, stem and seat post, Selle San Marco for the saddles and Look pedals. One surprising addition was the sight of the lower-end Look Keo 2 Max pedals on Jurgan Roelandts bike – no high end Keo Blades for this rider. I can only assume that he must prefer the more classic spring load as opposed to the carbon leaf spring style of the higher ranged models. On the other hand, Andre Greipel was seen using the Keo Blade 2 Ti pedals on his custom painted Helium SL.
Riders get to choose what bars and stem they use from Deda’s extensive range. Adam Hansen is renowned for his attention to detail and for such a tall and powerful rider he uses a bar width of only 38cm which is usually seen on rider’s bikes with smaller statures. Hansen uses this set up as he feels it give him a smaller frontal area when racing which is perfect to punch through the air when in a leadout train for the powerful German team leader.
Keeping the steering smooth are headsets provided by FSA. Tubulars are from Continental (the ProLtd tubulars were on all the bikes), but many other versions are stored away in the mechanics truck for days when they need faster rolling or tougher treads.
One deviation from the Campagnolo groupset is the inclusion of a C-Bear bottom bracket. These are ceramic bearing BB’s and have been the choice of the Lotto team since 2009. Judging by their website
they don’t seem a huge company, but they must be doing something right to have the Belgium squad keep coming back for their products.
Brake cables are all housed in Jagwire’s Elite Link outer housing (similar to Nokon casing), which is an alloy casing that is basically a series of beads. The inside of the cables are coated with Teflon for the added benefit of being able to make tight angles and not kink the brake or shifting cables as well as the 50% weight reduction over standard housing.
Something else that caught my eye was yet another new paint scheme for the Gorilla himself. On stage seven the Lotto-Belisol mechanics rolled out a fresh new Noah Fast for Gripel in German and gorilla lively, with the difference being that the new bike has been painted with German national champs colors but with a retro spin to match the rest of the bikes. The Gorilla logo is still present, which is actually owned by Greipel and you won’t see Ridley selling any bikes with this design.
Lastly how can we forget that yellow Helium SL that a certain Tony Gallopin started stage ten on. The team already had a yellow bike ready, but it was a Noah Fast and in Greipel’s size (anticipating early sprint stage wins), but the surprise of taking yellow on stage nine was a situation that Ridley wanted to celebrate. I spoke with Yanik the mechanic of Lotto who was the man who had the job of preparing the bike:
At 11:00pm on the evening of stage nine one of Ridleys employees had to make the 550km dash from their factory close to Antwerp, Belgium to the start line in Mulhouse, France with a freshly painted bike. Rumour has it that the CEO himself of Ridley did the spraying. The company actually started out as a paint spraying firm and then moved into building bikes and still paints all their frames in-house.
Yanik was up at 4:30am when he received the frame and then started work at 7:30am to get the frame built up in time to surprise Tony over his breakfast. The bike was waiting for Tony and the team when they all came down for breakfast at 8:30am.
The same components are used as on Tonys regular bike, but with just a few touches of yellow tastefully added.